When asked to define her brand Anya passionately describes it as one of the last truly luxury brands "in the sense that each one of our handbags is designed and handmade in London. We engage with our customers directly, no matter how small their orders might be, and cater for the individual customer too."
Anya designs for women who like to stand out, be different and daring in their fashion choices. They value quality and what they choose to wear helps them achieve that. In the words of the designer "The Anya Sushko woman is her own decision-maker and trusts her instincts."
Her answer when it comes to defining herself is straightforward and to the point: "I am an individualist, who is lead by courage and belief that a good product will withstand the test of time."
Anya has been surrounded by luxury by virtue of her modelling career and as a designer so asking what luxury is to her produces a surprising answer: "For me luxury is having the opportunity to do what you love. For me, it is designing and making handbags. I not only what to design and produce but do so using the finest materials, upholding the highest standards in craftsmanship and traditions in working with leather." but naturally she adds it is also "Wearing beautiful clothes, shoes and bags and seeing beautiful and exciting places around the world and not worrying about tomorrow."
Inspired by the human body, gothic architechture and the serene Baltic scenery amongst which she spent her childhood Anya Susho's bag' main characteristics are that of a well accentuated structure and silhouette. Her latest collection was inspired by "old values interpreted through the lense of a modern urban lifestyle."
A successful model in her own right and having the opportunity to work with one of Britain's greatest designers one has to wonder why she would burden herself with the awesome task of setting up her own brand. Anya credits her own drive and the support of her university mentor " I turned my hand to designing and producing high quality bags in my own name as soon as I graduated. When the ANYA SUSHKO brand caught the eye of fashion connoisseurs and received an exhibition invite at Paris Fashion Week, it was time for me to focus solely on my own signature line." this coupled with her passion about the role of a designer which provides her with the opportunity " to fulfill my potential.". She loves "the creation process: from conceiving an idea in my head, to sketching it, carefully selecting the materials, pattern cutting, making. Creating from scratch a product that someone will identify with for me equals fulfillment."
Hiss by Anya Sushko £525
We do try to challenge Anya's passion by asking her to reflect on the most difficult part of setting up her own brand:
"I think most known obstacle in any upcoming brand’s life is financial side. I don’t have a sponsor/ investor, or funding behind me, so I have to think about how to support the business. All products are produced in London in our studio therefore our bags are quite expensive. Consequently, it makes it harder to find suitable clients who’d trust unknown brand and risk to buy the product at a higher price point. Competing in a saturated and very crowded market place is a challenge. On the PR front, we do everything in house and we are often thrown back by competitors who can afford the advertising and huge media campaigns we cannot. Factories do not want to produce small quantities so as a small brand we are pushed either pay more or order large quantities or not work with some factories at all."
A daunting prospect for most, yet Anya has never regretted it, although readily admitting that if she were to do it all over again she'd probably spend more time working for a bigger brand before setting up her own.
Simona by Anya Sushko £563
Despite the harsh times for many bespoke brands, Anya Sushko seems to have weathered the storm gracefully, Anya puts this down to having had the courage to remain focused on the brand's identity. "We don’t try to be for everyone, but for someone, passionately. Having said that, we are having our ups and downs, but every time we learn from the experience and try doing things better next time."
One might also suggest that in addition to the focus on the brand's identity what has helped Anya Sushko is its contemporary interpretation of timeless designs as well as of traditional values, such as craftsmanship. As Anya adds "Our designs are daring and individual. We also hand-pick the materials and produce every piece in Islington, North London."
There is no 'typical' Anya Sushko client which is quite refreshing, there is however a common denominator, as Anya puts it, in the fact that they are not lead by short-lived trends and they place an emphasis on quality, longevity and originality.
Clients can expect to find bags finished to the highest levels of craftsmanship, produced entirely in Anya's atelier in North London. Each bag can take anything from between two days to two weeks from idea conception to final sketch depending on the complexity of the design. To add to the luxury experience Anya Sushko offers a bespoke service to private clients and and boutiques and stores alike.
Anya Sushko bags are stocked in selected boutiques and independent stores, such as the Dorchester boutique at the Dorchester London, but can be purchased on line www.anyasushko.com or if you are looking for something in particular you can always as Anya put it 'give us a call to discuss your requirements'.
A designer with the end client in mind - a rather rare breed indeed!